Search Results for 'Fort McHenry'

Conservation Re-cap: 15 Years at Fort McHenry

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As the birthplace of our National Anthem, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is an important site for our nation’s history. Since 1999, Aquarium staff and Aquarium Conservation Team volunteers (ACT!) have joined community volunteers to clean up and enhance the natural areas around the Fort that provide habitat, food and shelter for an amazing variety of wildlife that rely the area.

Ft. McHenry

As of January 2014, almost 630,000 pieces of debris have been removed from the wetland during our conservation field days. Just this weekend, 150 volunteers filled two dumpsters full of debris!

In addition to cleaning up marine debris, volunteers remove harmful invasive plants, maintain hiking trails, maintain pollinator and rain gardens and plant native flowers/trees. These efforts have proven to be vital, not only for the care and maintenance of Fort McHenry and the many species that call it home, but for the Aquarium’s environmental education work as well.

ACT!’s work helps preserve the home of hundreds of animal species, including birds, butterflies, reptiles, insects and aquatic creatures, while educating students and the public about marsh ecology and urban wildlife. Wildlife at Fort McHenry include blue crabs, marsh crabs, comb jellies, grass shrimp, Atlantic silversides, snapping turtles, ospreys, loons, mockingbirds, monarch butterflies, red foxes, bats, river otters, leopard frogs, and many, many more!

red fox at ft. mchenry

A fox recently spotted at Fort McHenry by Flickr user drbeanes!

For the past 15 years, ACT! has recorded and classified the amount and types of debris collected during our events. This data is used by the Aquarium and others to look at long-term trends in debris effects on ecosystem health and to provide information that can help us prioritize our waste reductions efforts throughout the city, state and country.

Have you ever visited this historic landmark? Tell us about your experience in the comments section!

Laura Bankey

A Day at the Fort McHenry Wetland

Every spring and fall, the National Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) recruits volunteers to restore habitat for wildlife, remove debris, and maintain trails at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore.

Recently, ACT! hosted a group of Patterson High School students and their mentors as a part of Legg Mason’s Workplace Mentoring Program. At the Fort McHenry wetland, they participated in a variety of environmental education activities and a debris cleanup over the course of the day.

The students’ excitement couldn’t be damped by the light rain as they seined for fish along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and caught a wide variety of critters including a blue crab, marsh crabs, Atlantic silversides, a northern pipefish, comb jellies, and grass shrimp.

A student sorts through the seine to find fish.
Photo by Shan Gordon, Waterfront Partnership Baltimore

On their nature walk in the 7-acre wetland, they encountered all sorts of wildlife that call the wetland home: an osprey, a snapping turtle, a box turtle, a pileated woodpecker, a common loon, and many more birds!

The students and their mentors also helped the National Aquarium team weed and plant a butterfly garden with native perennials like goldenrod, milkweed, mountain mint, and joe pye weed.

The students and their mentors cleaned up the wetland
Photo by Shan Gordon, Waterfront Partnership Baltimore

Since the National Aquarium took over stewardship of this marsh in 1999, volunteers have helped collect nearly 600,000 pieces of debris! Click here to learn more about the National Aquarium Fort McHenry conservation initiative.

Volunteers clean up Fort McHenry Wetland

Together, what can 83 volunteers accomplish on a Saturday morning?

In just four hours on Saturday, September 24, these volunteers, along with the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), removed 23,839 pieces of debris from the Fort McHenry Wetland in support of National Public Lands Day and the International Coastal Cleanup.

“Before I went through this experience, I never knew there was so much trash out there,” was one volunteer’s response to the overwhelming sight of the Patapsco River shoreline.

Fort McHenry Before Cleanup

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a well-visited piece of history for both Baltimore residents and out-of-town visitors. The Fort McHenry Wetland, located adjacent to the Fort, can be seen from the popular walking path. As one of the very few living shorelines in Baltimore City, the 8-acre Fort McHenry Wetland is well functioning, doing exactly what it’s meant to do: remove excess nutrients from the water; provide habitat for local wildlife; and filter the marine debris that is carried in from the tide. Since 1998, ACT! has hosted multiple community-supported debris cleanups here.

Fort McHenry After Cleanup

Volunteers have dedicated 250 hours to remove the urban debris (aka trash) and maintain the butterfly and rain gardens located on the site. Partners for this event included the Steinweg Baltimore, Maryland Port Administration, REI, Royal Bank of Canada, Constellation Energy, Maryland Environmental Trust, Toyota, and the National Park Service. To participate in a future Fort McHenry Field Day or another ACT! event, sign up to receive the Aquarium’s Conservation e-newsletter, and we’ll let you know about upcoming conservation events.

Fort McHenry Field Days

The National Aquarium’s Conservation Team once again hosted several Fort McHenry Field Days throughout the year to tackle Chesapeake Bay pollution on the home front.  Thanks to an outpouring of hard work and support from 304 volunteers, we were able help the small marsh by removing debris that would eventually choke out native plants and reduce the habitat value for the animals that make the marsh their home. 

In all, roughly 33,000 pieces of debris were removed from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  These Field Days involve more than just clean-up, and in 2009 volunteers also helped maintain native rain and butterfly gardens and plant trees. This wetland at Fort McHenry is one of the only living shoreline areas in the Harbor, and it is heavily utilized by many Bay dwellers and migrating birds.  We thank all of you who came together to make this a cleaner and safer place for these animals.

The Aquarium’s conservation team will hold more clean-up events in 2010. For details on how you can participate, please click here.

Conservation Re-cap: NWF Annual Meeting

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Conservation partners from the 49 state affiliates of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) met in Baltimore last week to hear and learn from each other’s efforts to protect and improve our blue planet.  This year’s conference theme was WATER: It Connects Us All.

As the host affiliate for the state of Maryland, the National Aquarium not only helped steer some of the conversation, we also had a chance to display some of our aquatic conservation initiatives to a national audience.

Highlights of the conference included:

  • Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, addressed the audience during the Opening Session and spoke about government transparency and the critical importance of public participation in the federal regulation and rule-making processes
  • Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, spoke about the explicit need for individuals and communities to create a groundswell of positive change to both hold the public sector accountable and support and reinforce good work
  • Conservation organizations from across the country shared innovative ideas on improving both water quality and water quantity in local and regional jurisdictions, and managing invasive species in our ecosystems
  • Conservation policy resolutions were passed that would help provide the future framework for NWF work.  These included initiatives focused on alternative energy, deforestation, invasive species, fisheries management and climate change
  • George Hawkins, General Manager of DC Water spoke about “making our cities work” and improving urban infrastructure to help relieve development pressure put on rural landscapes

As the local sponsor, National Aquarium had a chance to highlight healthy aquatic communities around the world by inviting meeting participants into our Baltimore venue for an evening.  We were also able to show our partners our successful education and stewardship work at both Fort McHenry and Masonville Cove through off-site field trips.

Aquarium staff also shared our expertise in climate change communication and social media strategies to build the capacity of other organizations in those areas!

At the end of the meeting, participants had an opportunity to hear from Collin O’Mara, NWF’s newly appointed President and CEO.  He left us with the following charge: “Confronting the pressing conservation challenges of this generation will require that Americans from every corner of our nation and every walk of life work together community by community and state by state to drive change at the national and international level.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Laura Bankey

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